A Butcher, A Baker, and a Candlestick Maker: What Makes a Great Escape Team?
If you’re thinking of trying an escape room with your friends, family, or colleagues, your goal is probably to solve all the puzzles and escape the room before the timer runs out. Most people don’t go to puzzle rooms and try to fail, even though you can still have a great time.
If you’re trying to maximize your chances of beating an escape room, you want to create a winning team. You’ll need a diverse set of skills to solve a puzzle room, as they are designed with many different types of challenges and require good communication between team members.
If you’re a Dungeons & Dragons player, you know you wouldn’t make a party of all bards and set out to slay a monster. You know you need to diversify your party so you have different skills to handle the challenges you may meet on your journey. A typical D&D party contains at least one fighter, a healer, a rogue, and one or more magic users. If you have room for more, you’ll add a well-balanced, Jack-of-all-trades character, or double up on specific skills. Having a team with a range of abilities, weaknesses, and strengths improves your chances of success.
It’s the same way when you build a team to tackle an escape room. You can have fun with a random group of people, but if you’re taking it to the next level, here’s how to build a winning team.
Every team needs someone who can see the big picture, and who can make hard decisions when there are competing proposals. The Mastermind on an escape room team is someone who is good at putting together the pieces to make something more significant. They also tend to be skilled at separating the wheat from the chaff — determining which information is likely relevant to a puzzle and what looks to be a red herring.
Which of your friends is good at seeing the big picture, synthesizing information, setting a plan in motion, and getting others to buy in? They’ll be your good mastermind.
Whenever a group of people overcomes a challenge together, there are ups and downs. Sometimes you have a quick start but then the red flag drops, as you get stumped. Sometimes you are sure a particular thing will work, only to find out it doesn’t. What do you need in these times of adversity? A team promoter or cheerleader.
This person encourages someone to try something new or cheers along as they are attempting to open a lock. The cheerleader will pump you up when you’re feeling down, and get your team over the hump when you feel lost. Their enthusiasm is typically infectious, and they can turn around momentum to drive you toward victory.
Who among your friends and family would fill this role? Every team needs an encourager!
A fair number of escape room puzzles are math- or science-based. It’s not uncommon to come across a series of numbers that might need to be manipulated mathematically to get a specific code. You might also see periodic tables, mathematic equations to solve, or binary code. Even if a puzzle isn’t explicitly number-based, the logical reasoning that applies to maths is the skill your team needs to solve many escape room puzzles.
Who is your go-to math-science brain? Who can actually solve for x?
On the other hand, many puzzles are language-based. There might be alphabetical puzzles, spelling games, substitution ciphers, or even puzzles that make use of your library skills. Puzzles often include puns and literary references that are clues for where to look or what items go together. Your literary specialist or linguist is good with languages and spotting patterns in words and letters. They also are well-read and will understand allusions and references to popular and classic works of literature.
Who do you know that reads a lot and loves word puzzles? Get them on your winning team.
The Pop Culture Fanatic
Many escape rooms gain inspiration from pop culture. For example, at Trapped Puzzle Rooms, we have two rooms inspired by Harry Potter, a room inspired by Game of Thrones, and a Marvel-style room. Our Spies v. Spies room riffs on Mission Impossible, SpyKids, and others in the genre. While you can play these rooms without having seen all the Potter movies or read Marvel comics, if someone among your group is up on all the pop culture references and memes, you’re going to have an advantage.
They will notice patterns and clues that are “easter eggs” for fans and their knowledge of the story arcs in the genre will help with solving the rooms. This is also true for prison escape rooms, which make use of tropes from prison movies and TV shows, crime-solving rooms, which borrow from police procedurals or forensic investigation, or detective-style escape rooms, which draw from Sherlock Holmes, Perry Mason, Agatha Christie, and other famous sleuths.
When figuring out how to build a team that conquers escape rooms, you want a pop culture fanatic on your side.
Every team needs one. That person whose ideas seem to come out of “left field”, who can see things differently than most other people. Escape room puzzles are tricky, and a lot of times, they ask you to use information in unexpected ways. When all of your logical thinkers are stumped, your creative will come up with something out of the blue that might seem absurd at first, but turns out to be exactly right.
Make sure your team has someone on it who thinks outside the box. You’ll be glad you did when their distorted thinking comes up with the creative solution you need to escape.
Try Out Your Team at Trapped
Now that you’ve composed your winning team, it’s time to test their mettle. Head over to one of our escape rooms in St. Paul or the North Loop of Minneapolis. There are seven puzzle room experiences to choose from. Reserve your spot ahead of time so you can be sure you can tackle the room as a team. Soon you’ll be sharing the time to beat, and challenging your friends to make a team of their own. See you there!